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What Do Goslings Eat?

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What do goslings eat? Feeding baby geese the correct feed at the correct time in their life is critical.

Goslings, or baby geese, are like any other babies and need lots of nutrients, vitamins and minerals to help them grow up to be strong and healthy.

We're brand new goose parents, so I did a lot of research, reading and asking questions before they arrived to be sure I knew how to best raise them.

This simple chart gives you the guidelines you need to ensure you're feeding your babies correctly.

Waterfowl feed can be hard to find, so usually feeding chicken feed seems to be what most goose keepers do.

Like ducklings, goslings can eat and thrive on chick feed, with a few simple caveats: they need more niacin than chicken feed provides, so you'll have to add brewers yeast to their daily feed during all stages of life (in a 2% ratio to feed). 

They also grow really fast which can put undue strain on their legs and lead to angel wing, just as it can in ducklings, so I opted to mix in some rolled oats into their feed (up to 25% ratio to the feed is okay) like I do for our ducklings.

What Do Goslings Eat?

Starter Feed (20-22% protein)

Hatch to 3 Weeks Old

Your goslings will see their biggest growth spurt during this critical time. Chick starter feed has the highest levels of protein of any feed (other than meat bird feed!) to help support this rapid growth.

The calcium levels in starter feed are relatively low because the little ones only need it to grow strong bones, not to produce eggshells.... yet.

Starter feed is available in both medicated or non-medicated formulations. Take care to only feed NON-medicated to goslings. Like ducklings, they don't need the medication, so it's counterproductive to feed it to them.

Feed should be offered 24/7 to your goslings while they're in the brooder along with fresh room temperature water. Never leave them feed without adequate fresh, clean water because goslings can easily choke, especially on the small crumble.

Goslings also enjoy when their feed is moistened a bit with water, making it easier to swallow. But be sure to discard any uneaten feed at the end of the day so it doesn't turn sour or mold.

Starter/Grower Feed (15-16% protein) + GRASS!

3 Weeks to 16 Weeks Old

Although your goslings' growth will slow down quite a bit during this next period, they still need a balanced diet to continue to fill out and mature properly. 

The protein level in the grower feed will drop from the level in the starter feed, while the calcium levels remain constant. Grower pellets are recommended for goslings over crumble or mash to prevent clogged throats and possible choking. At this point I also introduce them to whole wheat fed free-choice in a separate bowl.

However, unlike ducklings and chicks, by this point your goslings should be out on grass for as much of the day as possible. It's likely that they won't care to eat much commercial feed by this point as long as they have access to fresh grass and weeds.

Goslings are much more cold-tolerant than chicks or ducklings, so by three weeks old, as long as the temperatures are around 70 degrees or more, they are fine outside (in a secure, covered area protected from predators, of course). 

They will likely eat only a minimal amount of feed once they can have access to grass during the majority of their waking hours, but just to be sure they did had enough to eat, I continued to mix in the brewers yeast and oats into their feed during this stage, but only offered them feed in the evening when they came back inside to sleep. 

Many mornings there would still be feed in their dish, and I was only giving them maybe 3/4 of a cup to share between the three of them.

Free Ranging/Layer Feed (15-16% protein)

17 Weeks Old+

Your geese should be free ranging pretty much all the time now and will get the nutrients they need from the various grasses and weeds they eat.  

During the warm months, they shouldn't need commercial feed at all, or you can feed them a mix of layer feed and wheat. Again, pellets are recommended over crumble or mash.

In the winter they will need something to eat if they don't have access to fresh greens year round.  A mix of wheat and layer feed mix or just wheat can be fed through the cold months. I opted to feed them just plain wheat their first winter which they loved. 

Adult geese will eat about 1/2 pound of feed or grains per day when they have no access to grass. Offering sea kelp free-choice or mixed into the feed will provide them the nutrients they would be otherwise getting from the fresh greens.

I also gave them some hay in a basket in the corner of their house to give them some additional nutrition and provide the something to do while they were "cooped up". Although I allowed them access to the outdoors every day all winter, we often had a foot or more of snow on the ground which precluded them finding anything to eat outside.

Update: My goslings are not eating commercial feed at all any longer and will live long, happy lives while laying us delicious, fresh eggs each spring munching on grass and weeds in the warm months and wheat and hay in the cold months. 

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